To FAA, transgender pilots no longer have a mental disorder

Jessica Taylor, a pilot for a Denver-based regional airline, won a big fight this week with the Federal Aviation Administration on behalf of people just like her.

Taylor is transgender.

“I found that gender can mean the difference between captains believing you are qualified or not to fly the aircraft,” she said in an interview last fall.

Today it was revealed that the FAA will no longer consider gender identity dysphoria in the category of a mental illness, which required pilots to undergo a time-consuming and expensive process to convince federal officials a pilot is medically fit and stable enough to fly.

“Over the past few years many transgender individuals have lost their medical certification due to these outdated practices and policies, while also facing discrimination by the FAA,” Taylor said.

Up until yesterday, Taylor says, the FAA required would-be pilots to submit results of psychological testing every year in order to be considered for a medical certificate, a requirement of being allowed to fly in the U.S.

It’s been only four years since the FAA, replacing the phrase “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria.”

But pilots have still been required to undergo several additional exams and faced extra scrutiny.

Under the new policy, a transgender pilot submits to a medical exam by a locally certified doctor as any other pilot and, if they pass, gets the medical certificate on the spot.

The new policy will still require additional paperwork and testing if a pilot has been treated with hormone therapy for less than 5 years or had gender reassignment surgery less than 5 years ago.